The journey of infertility brings stress on a marriage in many different ways. With the hope that each new cycle brings, that hope is taken away with a negative pregnancy test. The emotional, physical and financial investment that each treatment brings, can put strain on the strongest relationships. Women and men often complain of not being understood and supported. Here are a few tips on how you can keep you marriage alive during the stressful journey of infertility.
Carve out some together time. It’s easy for couples to retreat and isolate themselves from each other when infertility takes over. Remember what it was like when you were dating and how much you loved to spend time together? Create time each to week to enjoy each other’s company and just be a couple, not an “infertile couple.” It could be as simple as taking a walk, seeing a movie or a dinner out. Or, schedule a long weekend getaway or vacation. Separate yourself from infertility for a while.
Find someone else to vent to. Men and women handle infertility in different ways. Generally, men tend to want to “fix” things and infertility is something they cannot fix. They want to help their wives feel better and when they cannot the powerlessness sets in. Sometimes men may be afraid to say the wrong thing and therefore retreat and say nothing, making their partner even more upset. Women need to talk about their feelings and the strong emotions they have. Rather than putting the pressure on your husband to help with the emotional piece of this journey, find a trusted friend or relative who has gone through it or is currently undergoing infertility treatments. Vent you anger, disappointment, resentment to them. Or, join a support group where you will feel validated, less alone and and empowered.
Listen to understand, not to reply. “When you talk you are only repeating what you know. When you listen you may learn something new.”– Dalai Lama. Are you someone who is preparing your response while the other person is talking? You are not alone. Each partner is experiencing different emotions and view their infertility journey from a different perspective. And both are valid and important. By learning to listen….really listen… you will gain more insight and understanding of each other. Instead of thinking about what you might say to your husband, just hear what he has to say. Ask him questions. Reflect on what he is saying and tell him you understand. Guaranteed, you will learn to see the world of infertility from his perspective and you may even learn something new about him. The perspective may be different from yours, but both are equally valid. The deeper the understanding the deeper the connection you can have with your partner. With mutual understanding, your struggles to become parents can bring you closer together.
No doubt, these tips can take some time and energy. But guaranteed it will be worth it because you will give the child you have worked so hard to bring into the world, two parents who are still happy together!